[1781 Letter of Colonial Surveyor and Official William Lyon to Pennsylvania Surveyor General John Lukens].

1781 letter by surveyor William Lyon of Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania to Surveyor General John Lukens, seeking appointment as Deputy Surveyor.


1781 letter from Irish-American colonial surveyor and official William Lyon of Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania Surveyor General John Lukens. The letter is written in the last year of the American Revolution.

William Lyon, then county prothonotary, here seeks also to be appointed Deputy Surveyor of Cumberland County, where, in 1751, he had previously assisted his uncle in surveying and laying out the town of Carlisle:

I Congratulate you most Heartily on being re-instated into Your former office of Surveyor General of Pennsylvania; I would only put you in rememberance [sic] of my Having been long in Imploy [sic] as Surveyor in this County [Cumberland] under Col. Armstrong (now General) [John Armstrong, uncle of William Lyon] and of having obtained a Grant of a Certain part of his District on his resignation, the other part thereof having been alotted [sic] to Mr Matthew Henderson at the same time by Governor Penn and the other Proprietary Agents, in which Grant or appointment You, Sir, did verbally Concur (as indeed the whole appointment was never carried farther than giving verbal Consent). Therefore, Sir, having always found You well dispos’d towards me as a Surveyor, and flattering myself that I well understand the Business both in Theory and Practice; I would request the favour of You to appoint me Deputy for the District formerly assign’d me, provided You see Your way Clear in granting a Deputation to any who holds another Office (as you, Sir, well know I hold the Prothonotaries Office at present for this County) – I’m so well acquaint of a long time with the Business to be done in this County that in my oppinion [sic] none can be more Capable of answering the present purpose than me if continued in strength of Body & mind.

Having cooly mentioned Matthew Henderson’s appointment by Governor John Penn, William Lyon is careful to suggest an alternative plan to John Lukens. William Lyon, an experienced surveyor, puts the Surveyor General in the position of having more than one option to acquiesce to Lyon’s request. In a postscript to the letter, Lyon again mentions Henderson:

Mr. Henderson desired me to Mention him to you as in Expectation of your favour to grant him a Deputation for the District formerly allotted him, of which I think him both Capable and deserving, he also expects mine would be added to his provided I should obtain a Deputation against which I should have no objections but it would cheerfully acquiesce.

William Lyon was born in 1729, on St. Patrick’s Day, in Ireland. Around 1750 he emigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania where he became an assistant to his uncle, John Armstrong, who was deputy surveyor and justice of the peace in Cumberland County. The two men laid out the town of Carlisle. William Lyon served in the French and Indian War and participated in the expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1758. After 1764, when he was appointed magistrate by Governor John Penn, he served in numerous offices including prothonotary, clerk of the Orphans’ Court, and, in 1776, on the Committee of Safety. He died in Carlisle in 1809.


Description: [1781 Letter of Colonial Surveyor and Official William Lyon to Pennsylvania Surveyor General John Lukens].

Carlisle [Pennsylvania], May 9th 1781. [1]p. Autograph Letter Signed. 12¼ x 7½ inches. Bifolium with integral address leaf and red wax seal; laid paper with dove watermark of Thomas and Mark Willcox, Ivy Mills, Pennsylvania. Contemporary docketing. With modern typed transcription. Folds; minor loss at seal not affecting text; some clean separations at fold lines especially at center; very good.

[3724870]

Price: $250.00